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Trump Allies Discourage Georgia Residents From Voting In January Runoff

Supporters of President Trump host a 'Stop the Steal' protest outside of the Georgia State Capital building on Nov. 21, 2020.
Supporters of President Trump host a 'Stop the Steal' protest outside of the Georgia State Capital building on Nov. 21, 2020.

Georgia allies of President Trump continue to push baseless accusations of voter fraud in an attempt to have the election results overturned, following weeks of news networks, legal bodies and state certification boards affirming the election win for President-elect Joe Biden. At a rally Wednesday, they went even further, discouraging Georgia residents from voting in the Jan. 5 Senate runoff election.

Lin Wood, an attorney and prominent Trump supporter in the state, falsely alleged that the election had been "rigged." In a free-wheeling, conspiracy-laden "Stop the Steal" rally speech, Wood also spoke against Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, and urged rally attendees not to vote for the two in the runoff election.

"Do not be fooled twice. This is Georgia, we ain't dumb. We're not going to go vote on January 5th on another machine made by China. You're not going to fool Georgians again," Wood said, pushing the unfounded conspiracy theory that voting machines had been compromised in the Nov. 3 election.

"Why would you go back and vote in another rigged election? For God's sake, fix it. You got to fix it before we'll do it again," he continued to resounding cheers from the audience.

Woods' remarks are part of an escalating rhetoric by a shrinking number of Republicans, who have fought to undermine Biden's White House victory.

Trump has himself refused to acknowledge his defeat in the race and has openly supported dangerous and unfounded accusations of voter impropriety and compromised voting machines.

Gabriel Sterling, a top Republican Georgia election official, on Tuesday made an emotional plea for Republicans to tone down their rhetoric, saying it had prompted threats and harassment.

"Someone's going to get hurt, someone's going to get shot, someone's going to get killed," Sterling said in an impassioned speech to reporters. "It's not right."

Trump responded to Sterling's emotional plea with a tweet that falsely promoted the notion of widespread fraud.

Speaking to NPR's All Things Considered on Wednesday, Sterling described trying to tamp down on the Trump-backed disinformation campaign as "playing a game of whack-a-mole."

"Every new conspiracy theory that gets put up, we have to whack down," he said. "It's insane. It's just insane."

Sterling said he and other public officials, as well as private citizens, had been on the receiving end of death threats because of their opposition to Trump's efforts to undermine the vote.

Even as Sterling criticized Perdue and Loeffler, the two Georgia Republican Senate candidates, he said he still plans to vote for them. "The future of the republic is at stake," he said. "I've been fighting for these values my entire life, and I'm not going to leave my party. I'm going to fight to make my party the party that it needs to be."

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